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Source link: http://archive.mises.org/4588/the-union-conspiracy-against-wal-mart-workers/

The Union Conspiracy Against Wal-Mart Workers

January 23, 2006 by

Most of the commentary on the ongoing propaganda campaign against Wal-Mart ignores what is probably the most important aspect of it: It is primarily a labor union-inspired campaign against Wal-Mart employees, as well as the company in general. This is the essential truth of all union organizing campaigns. Historically, all of the violence, libel, and intimidation that goes along with “organizing campaigns” has been directed at competing, non-union labor, not management. FULL ARTICLE

{ 117 comments }

Curt Howland January 24, 2006 at 4:44 pm

I don’t always buy at WalMart, but when I do I spend less for the things I would buy anyway. That leaves me more money to spend elsewhere.

Unless someone shows me how WalMart uses force (the company does indeed try to utilize zoning and “planning boards” to their benefit), that’s the end of it for me.

Curt Howland January 24, 2006 at 4:46 pm

Antilib, please provide one example where WalMart has used force or fraud against their suppliers.

Vince Daliessio January 24, 2006 at 5:16 pm

antilib sez;

“Your argument was that people who DON’T shop at Wally World are – in YOUR own words – STUPID.”

Me: I never called anybody stupid. But you sir are veering in that direction.

“I have been in a Wal-Mart. I find them places filled with depressingly cheap crap, employees who would rather scowl at you than help, and hordes of the stinking, fetid poor.”

Me: Which goes to my claim that you are anything but progressive, and that you hate poor people, QED

“You, however, seem to think that their merchandise is “adequate” to “more than adequate”. You’re entirely entitled to that opinion. I happen to think your opinion on this issue is “significantly less than adequate”, bordering on “abysmally incorrect”.”

Me: It isn’t just my opinion – the market (retarded by government as it is in this country) has found their products more than adequate.

“Wally World exists, in part, because of their exploitation of low-wage workers, dumb laws, dumber lawmakers, and the inability of our “Free Market Society” to permit (Notice I did not say PROVIDE) the average worker to earn a decent salary.”

Me: As it sits now, we do NOT have a “Free Market Society”, as you term it, we have a corporatist society;

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corporatism

“This whole discussion is about two players, neither of which is angelic. Wal-Mart is as vicious to its’ suppliers as Unions are to their targets.”

Me: Great observation. Except no supplier is forced at gunpoint to deal with Wal-Mart.

Vince Daliessio January 24, 2006 at 5:20 pm

A couple more questions:

1)What mechanism can you elucidate by which Wal-Mart is impoverishing America? Do other companies use this mechanism? Is it illegal?

2)Can you think of an even bigger organization, that uses explicit and implicit force to directly impoverish people by demanding a portion of their wages and otherwise decreasing job-creating investment in this country?

Lo-key lieschmidt January 24, 2006 at 5:35 pm

Paul E.
I’d agree with you if I hadn’t used the word “tend”. But even if I hadn’t, sheesh, isn’t that kind of a banal point to make in this context?
Loe kEE

Francisco Torres January 24, 2006 at 5:47 pm

anti-lib said:
“Wally World exists, in part, because of their exploitation of low-wage workers, dumb laws, dumber lawmakers, and the inability of our “Free Market Society” to permit (Notice I did not say PROVIDE) the average worker to earn a decent salary.”

What IS a decent salary? Is it the same for a single youth than for a working mother of three? Is it the same for you as it would for your neighbor? I believe you just wield that term around because it sounds pretty, not because it is based on sound logic.

The idea that Walmart exists because it can exploit workers is specious, at best. Not one of Walmart employees were made to sign a contract at gunpoint, meaning they found the wages and conditions acceptable.

“Wal-Mart caters to the poor. Great. Someone has to. They’re a huge market[...]”

Hmmm, not ONE has to do anything. Walmart simply opens its doors to anyone that wants to do business with them. The fact is that the lower price range of many products they sell is advantageous for the poor, since they can stretch their dollar more than if they could only buy from a more expensive source, like the much (too much) vaunted “mom & pop” stores.

Buckwheat January 24, 2006 at 5:49 pm

It is utterly amazing to me how anti-working class so-called libertarians are! Maybe they want to deny their less than upper class roots – I know, pardon the psychic analysis. The rich aren’t libertarians, for an obvious reason: this crony capitalist system of theirs suits them just fine. So why blame the working man or woman when he or she organizes to try to get a piece of the pie they created with their sweat and tears, blood, too? Are the unions tactics any different than the giant corporations buying the votes of the DeLays, Neys, or Hunters? Don’t forget union philosophy was developed in the (probably halcyon to the libs) days of the street battles between the company goon squads and striking workers. How many workers were killed by the Pinkertons, for instance? Should unions modify their attitude now that the entire weight of the government and corporate establishment is on the attack against them? Helped by the arriviste libertarians and their media mouthpieces. As for the professor, I wonder what his response would be to an attack on the tenure system. You know, that closed-shop system that allows a multitude of pointy heads to sit on their behinds, suck hind tit and talk sh*t, while us workers pay their high (taxpayer-paid) salaries by busting our asses all day long. Well? Isn’t one of you libs gonna defend tenure?

Francisco Torres January 24, 2006 at 5:58 pm

Buckwheat asks:
“How many workers were killed by the Pinkertons, for instance? ”

I give up… HOW many?

“Should unions modify their attitude now that the entire weight of the government and corporate establishment is on the attack against them?”

You MUST be kidding. Government is specially cozy towards unions – the fact that, year by year, less and less workers are willing to join a union is evidence that worker’s choice has been working against unions, not the government.

Vince Daliessio January 24, 2006 at 6:06 pm

Buckwheat,

I’d agree with you…except that the Repubs have never shown any interest in repealing the Wagner Act, Davis-Bacon, The Railway Act, or the National Labor Relations Act.

Combined with the amazing growth of unions in the government sector, this tells me one thing – unions are good for big business, even better for big government. But they are bad for non-union workers who already have jobs. And they are bad for us in general because the economic effect is to drive up wage rates by restricting supply. This tends to drive the small businessman out of the market for employees, even faster than Wal-Mart does.

Paul Edwards January 24, 2006 at 6:29 pm

Hi Loe kEE,

“I’d agree with you if I hadn’t used the word “tend”. But even if I hadn’t, sheesh, isn’t that kind of a banal point to make in this context?”

I’ll take your second point first as I do think it’s important and here’s why: The problem people often have with Austrian conclusions is that they are based on deductive logic and so they are a priori. That means the claims and conclusions it makes, if true at all, are necessarily true and only more correct premises or more correct logic, and not empirical evidence can refute them. That means when we say A is A, logic dictates that we do not allow contradictions such as A is not A sometimes. On the other hand, the methods people often use to dismiss the a priori-ness or the correctness of an Austrian conclusion is via their own a priori statements. The problem is, they use fallacious logic in the process, and they are usually unaware of it to boot.

On your defense citing your use of the word “tend”, I would respond this way. If we give weight to your spin on your use of the word “tend” and allow that it avoids the performative contradiction, what your statement evaluates to is “very little dogma or doctrine holds true in every situation and time”. This avoids the contradiction and now sounds quite true as well. But it now has the defect of not saying much. On first brush, the statement appeared to dismiss with authority any conclusions that are completely general. To avoid a contradiction, however, it must merely affirm the possibility that some things are always true in all situations and times.

Vince Daliessio January 24, 2006 at 8:11 pm

Buckwheat asks;

“Isn’t one of you libs gonna defend tenure? ”

I won’t answer for Professor DiLorenzo, but if universities were private organizations they could have any kind of employment policy they want. So no, I will assert that the tenure system and the university system in general have been compromised by the state and have no place in a liberty-based system.

David January 24, 2006 at 8:20 pm

Wal-Mart is not an example of capitalism, because there is no capitalism. There is corporatism, a kind of fascism. //

The idea that in 2006 America we have a “free market” is ludicrous. Even more ludicrous is that Austrians are implying such – by defending Wal-Mart as an example of the free market in action. //

No company exists in isolation. The network of laws and regulations govern it. The laws and regulations, moreover, produce economic distortions which necessarily redound throughout the economy. In considering the immense interference with economic life that our government has undertaken over the last 100 years or so, the effects of which have of necessity only multiplied and necessarily (or a priori) are pernicious, one cannot assert that any company owes its relative success wholly to noncoercive actions. And we see empirically that Wal-Mart engages in coercion, like all “successful” business under corporatism or crony capitalism: for example, its aggressive exploitation of Eminent Domain, the various tax breaks it receives (i.e., Wal-Mart sees no problem in socializing part of its costs; it shifts the general tax burden to other victims), and, most of all, the positive incentives it receives from local governments – not just tax breaks but subsidies. This is a coercive entity, not a heroic producer. (Re. the terminology of “producer”: Wal-Mart doesn’t *make* anything; the production of its brand products is outsourced; Wal-Mart is a middleman, a retailer.) //

It is disingenuous to claim, “Nobody put a gun to the head of the Wal-Mart worker, forcing him to work for Wal-Mart” or “Nobody put a knife to the throat of the Wal-Mart customer, forcing him to buy from Wal-Mart.” Nobody put a physical gun to your physical head, forcing you to put up with inflation, either. Does this mean that inflation is not coercive, i.e. is not theft? Nobody put a physical knife to your physical windpipe, forcing you to pay the gasoline tax when you buy gas at the local pump. After all, you are free not to buy gas at $3.00 per gallon; you are free not buy any gas at all and sit home and starve. But the gas retailer, wholesale supplier, et al will ultimately face physical sanctions should he refuse to turn over his part of his revenue as payment of the tax. In short, we live/subsist in a coercive system, in which economic distortions are produced that have incalculable distant effects and do not readily admit of “free” action. Certainly Wal-Mart is not John Galt, a capitalist hero. It is more like Orren Boyle – or even Tinky Holloway. (I take these names from characters in Ayn Rand’s novel *Atlas Shrugged*.) //

To admire Wal-Mart is akin to admiring the owners of sports teams who get municipalities to subsidize stadiums and arenas. Such “capitalists” are no more than politically connected crooks. Even crooks can work hard in making and leveraging their deals. //

As to personal and esthetic issues, Wal-Marts essentially sell these items:
1. Clothes that quickly wear out (“name brands,” by the way, are not an indicator of quality; the branding function does not operate any longer, except among some high price items);
2. “Name brand” candy and sugary sodas;
3. Decently priced toiletries and cosmetics (pretty good);
4. Low-end CDs and movies;
5. So-so appliances;
6. Greeting cards and decoratives;
7. A variety of largely cosmetic auto supplies (pretty good);
8. Poor quality furniture and furnishings;
9. Poor quality shoes; and
10. So-so sporting goods and garden tools.
They also sell plants, most of which are already dead or dying.//
But the point is that the inventory, prices, and quality do not reflect the free choice of free people engaging in free trade in a free society. They are more like a matter of “you take what’s available.” //
The atmosphere of a Wal-Mart is like that of some Soviet store that one reads about in fiction. There is the same slothful indifference, the same low-IQ charity cases “working,” the same dirty floors, the same kind of poor, half-crippled, sad or pathetic clientele. There is the same worker trying to subsist on starvation wages. The only difference in atmosphere is the forced “positivity.” It’s a place where you’re supposed to be up – but everyone is curiously down. Wal-Marts have the air of a flop house being visited by a Republican president. (Super Wal-Marts are a little better.) //

These are some of the reasons – you may call them stupid, if you wish – why I not longer go to Wal-Mart.

George Gaskell January 24, 2006 at 8:47 pm

The atmosphere of a Wal-Mart is like that of some Soviet store that one reads about in fiction. There is the same slothful indifference, the same low-IQ charity cases “working,” the same dirty floors, the same kind of poor, half-crippled, sad or pathetic clientele. There is the same worker trying to subsist on starvation wages.

You have clearly never actually seen a country that has experienced socialism. For one, there are products on the shelves, all the time.

And, really “starvation wages”? The biggest health problem among Americans (especially the poor) is obesity, an affliction of material abundance. Obesity also seems to be prevalent among Wal-Mart employees, by my informal survey.

You also offer the latest example of a logical fallacy that, for the life of me, I cannot understand. Your argument goes something like this: the market for the retail goods that Wal-Mart sells is less-than-free, so that makes it OK to make it even less free???

What IS that? I hear it all the time, but it makes absolutely no sense. I have to believe that there is some kind of conclusion or element in the rationale that you are leaving out. Please try to connect all the dots with this one, because I really do not see how so many people keep bringing it up.

David January 24, 2006 at 8:54 pm

Clarification: please note that I am comparing the *atmosphere* of Wal-Marts to fictionally stereotyped Soviet stores. I understand that Soviet inventories were incredibly scanty, while Wal-Mart inventories are incredibly plentiful, a life-and-death difference. However, it is useful to note that in the old days, in a relatively freer America, large stores comparable to today’s Wal-Marts in terms of unhappy sordidness and uncleanliness, did not last very long; did not make billions of dollars and proliferate unchecked.

David January 24, 2006 at 9:03 pm

George, I believe you have me confused with someone else. I don’t wish to make Wal-Mart less free. I am not on the side of the union thugs.

I am not on the side of the Wal-Mart thugs, is all.

Both are unacceptable to me. But let me reiterate for you: I am not supporting legislation against Wal-Mart. I would like to see the whole economy (including Wal-Mart) much freer, on the scale of several orders.

I merely want to disabuse people of the harmful illusion (especially bad on a site devoted to scientific economic principles) that Wal-Mart is a company whose success is a credit to a Liberal order. It isn’t. Twisting facts to portray it as such, in order to win some kind of union-busting argument, is not only dishonest but particularly perplexing to see on a website devoted to Austrian principles.

Buckwheat January 25, 2006 at 1:02 am

For the eddification of Mr. Torres, apparently unacquainted with some American labor history, here are a few tidbits:

The Homestead Strike. One occasion where the Pinkerton Guards, trying to pave the way for the introduction of scabs, opened fire on striking workers was in Homestead, Pennsylvania, in 1892. In the ensuing battle, eleven strikers and spectators were shot to death.

In 1887, the Louisiana Militia, aided by bands of “prominent citizens,” shot at least 35 unarmed black sugar workers striking to gain a dollar-per-day wage, and lynched two strike leaders.

In 1894, federal troops killed 34 American Railway Union members in the Chicago area.

In 1909, female garment workers went on strike in New York; many were arrested. A judge told those arrested: “You are on strike against God.”

In 1911, the Triangle Shirtwaist Company, occupying the top three floors of a ten-story building in New York City, was consumed by fire. One hundred and forty-seven people, mostly women and young girls working in sweatshop conditions, lost their lives. Approximately 50 died as they leapt from windows to the street; the others were burned or trampled to death as they desperately attempted to escape through stairway exits locked as a precaution against “the interruption of work”. On 11 April the company’s owners were indicted for manslaughter.

These examples, while dated, accurately depict the continuing attitudes of the corporate so-called elite. Today, though, they murder you by taking your pension, laying you off after sending your job to some third-world workers paradise, and dismantling the social safety net.

I wonder, Francisco, would you consider the last sentence in the Shirtwaist example evidence of government coddling of unions and workers? How about The Taft-Hartley Labor Act, curbing strikes, passed in 1947? The feds use it to this day to stop strikes by longshoremen, airline employees, etc., certainly in the private sector where according to the lib fantasy, government should not intrude. I don’t read any lib rhetoric about this type of government interference in private contracts. Lib focus on and animus to unions and workers rights only furthers the agenda of the facist corporatist system evolving in this country. This is sad because libertarians are the natural allies of working people but many prefer to identify with their exploiters. This defect results from their misplaced faith in their god, the market.

Vince Daliessio January 25, 2006 at 10:04 am

Buckwheat sez;

“The Homestead Strike. One occasion where the Pinkerton Guards, trying to pave the way for the introduction of scabs, opened fire on striking workers was in Homestead, Pennsylvania, in 1892. In the ensuing battle, eleven strikers and spectators were shot to death.”

He fails to mention that the strikers occupied the mill’s property with arms.

“In 1911, the Triangle Shirtwaist Company, occupying the top three floors of a ten-story building in New York City, was consumed by fire. One hundred and forty-seven people, mostly women and young girls working in sweatshop conditions, lost their lives. Approximately 50 died as they leapt from windows to the street; the others were burned or trampled to death as they desperately attempted to escape through stairway exits locked as a precaution against “the interruption of work”. On 11 April the company’s owners were indicted for manslaughter. ”

As well they should have been.

How does this prove the utility or necessity, or even the legality of forced unionism?

Vince Daliessio January 25, 2006 at 10:07 am

Buckwheat sez;

“This defect results from their misplaced faith in their god, the market.”

As opposed to your totally rational faith in unions and government.

George Gaskell January 25, 2006 at 10:30 am

Buckwheat, your parade of horribles is a transparent exercise in propaganda.

Austrians are familiar with logical reasoning. In logical terms, your recitation of propaganda disguised as history (further disguised as argument) boils down to a rather weak proposition: “Some business owners may have committed wrongs against some employees, therefore unions are great.”

Needless to say, there are a few holes in your argument.

Austrians oppose unions because the central feature of unions is that they forcibly exclude non-members from accepting employment. They exist for the purpose of excluding competition, as an artificial barrier to entry for the people you so often demean as “scabs.” Austrians oppose this form of economic protectionism.

For example, when unionists “strike,” this is often used as a euphemism for showing up at a work site to assault or intimidate would-be workers from agreeing to work in their place. This is a violent, aggressive act, and property owners have every right to expel such people.

Owners of businesses have also been known to commit wrongs against employees. We oppose that, too.

libertarians are the natural allies of working people but many prefer to identify with their exploiters

I completely reject your use of the term “exploit” in this context. It is the most mis-used word in the context of employment. It is a word that launched a thousand unions, and it is a lie. Voluntary agreements between employers and employees are mutually beneficial, and therefore cannot be exploitative.

antilib January 25, 2006 at 11:02 am

Mr. Daliessio:

“I have been in a Wal-Mart. I find them places filled with depressingly cheap crap, employees who would rather scowl at you than help, and hordes of the stinking, fetid poor.”

Me: Which goes to my claim that you are anything but progressive, and that you hate poor people, QED

OK – how does my statement about Wally World make me “Anything but progresive”? Furthermore, where is it written that “progressive” is a desirable thing in the first place? As far as hating the poor, I’m functionally indifferent to them. Poverty, in *most* cases, is a condition that can be remedied, not an affliction or a disease. So why is this an issue? It’s entirely irrelevant as to what my opinion may or may not be with regard to any class of people. The discussion is about Wal-Mart, not about the people who shop there.

you say: “Me: As it sits now, we do NOT have a “Free Market Society”, as you term it, we have a corporatist society;”

I agree. That’s why there were quotes around the words “Free Market Society”.

Curt Howard, “Antilib, please provide one example where WalMart has used force or fraud against their suppliers.”

Fraud isn’t a point I can prove against Wally World. That’s a matter for the courts. Force, on the other hand, is exerted each and every day by Bentonville. Have you *ever* worked for a Wally World supplier? I have. You get these well-dressed, corporate sycophants who show up at your office and say “Either drop the price by X, or we’ll use your competitor Y”. That’s a threat, and that is force. When you have a company of their size (Which, BTW, is bigger than a slew of COUNTRIES) they have the ability to engage in a variety of tactics that a smaller entity cannot. Yeah, I know, a Lib will call that “Free Market”. It would be if the manufacturer had a viable choice….but in reality (someplace Lib’s only appear to visit on occasion) it ain’t.

There’s a saying in the retail manufacturing world: “The only thing worse than not doing business with Wal-Mart, is actually doing business with Wal-Mart”. It is a corporate policy of Wally World to *encourage* suppliers to move production “offshore” (Doncha just love that little euphamism for “Deindustrialize America”?) in order to lower prices.

Wal-Mart is relentless in their drive to lower prices. They have absolutely no concern whatsoever about what it takes, to the point of bankrupting many of their suppliers. The Lib POV would be that the “weak” were weeded from the garden. It’s that Darwinian Economics of the Austrian school at work.

On the positive side, Wal-Mart provides a fairly narrow range of goods, targeted at the working poor, at an affordable price. That’s very definately a “good”. On the other side, they’re engaging in a relentless campaign to shift production overseas, primarily to China, to put middle-class Americans out of work (which, in turn, makes them MORE reliant on Wal-Mart’s low prices) and to vilify anyone who dares take them on.

Wal-Mart, like many companies, is decidedly two-faced about their position in our economy. They don’t hesitate to scream about “pejoratives” like Maryland’s recent Health-Care stupidity, but won’t hesitate to go to the local planning board and demand the right to take blocks of residential land, via eminent domain, to build a new “SuperStore”. Hmmmmm…on the one hand (or face, as it were) they demand a “Free Market”, yet on the other hand (face) they want government intervention for land, tax breaks, abatements, et al, ad nauseum, ad absurdum.

No, Wal-mart isn’t the AntiChrist, but they’re not the Second Coming, either. I don’t hate the people who shop there. I could care less (Actually I couldn’t care less…I care ZERO) about them. They’re free economic actors and act, presumably, in their own best interests.

Wal-Mart management are both rent-seeking, free-riders at the same time they’re contributors to the overall economy. In other words, they’re no different than any other company – just moreso because of their size. However, you’ll never see me in a Wal-Mart, pushing a wobbly cart full of sub-standard junk, while jostling with the unwashed masses. (Just visit any Wal-Mart in central Dallas and you’ll need a bath when you’re done).

One last thing, especially for you, Mr. Daliessio: You’re apparently quite enamored with Wally World and the denizens thereof. How many Nieman-Marcus, Lord & Taylor, Saks, Bergdorf’s, (This list could go on and on) have you seen in the news lately where the shoppers engage in gun battles in the front of the store? (I recall two or three such stories in the last few weeks) Not exactly the kind of crowd you want in YOUR neighborhood, is it?

Francisco Torres: “What IS a decent salary? Is it the same for a single youth than for a working mother of three? Is it the same for you as it would for your neighbor? I believe you just wield that term around because it sounds pretty, not because it is based on sound logic.”

I was very specific in saying that the market doesn’t OWE anyone a specific standard of living. Each of us has a different “worth” to society and are compensated uniquely, in general. You’re objecting to something I didn’t say, and, in general, I agree with your perspective – except the smarmy ad hominem.

Furthermore you assert “The idea that Walmart exists because it can exploit workers is specious, at best.”

Hmmmmm….I’m not so sure I agree with you. Wal-Mart is of such a size that it can do pretty much any damn thing it chooses to. They’re not in business to give away anything – nor should they be. However, don’t presume that they don’t take advantage of their workforce at every opportunity. There are several settled, and current, class-action suits that assert otherwise. I tend to have more faith in the current and former Wal-Mart employees who say their employer is of low moral character. Your assertion of “speciousness” aside.

George Gaskell, in answer to a question you posed to David: I have, indeed, been to a store in a socialist state. They’re frightfully sad. The argument made by David is, indeed, accurate: Your average Wal-Mart is a Lenin-era store, only with brighter colors and flourescent lights. The employees of Wal-Mart are just as friendly, competent and enthusiastic as the inmates of the Gulag. (Of course, without the great food)

You further argue: “You also offer the latest example of a logical fallacy that, for the life of me, I cannot understand. Your argument goes something like this: the market for the retail goods that Wal-Mart sells is less-than-free, so that makes it OK to make it even less free???”

I don’t get it, either. I don’t think I’ve read anyone here say that Wally’s market is less than free and that people don’t go there under their own motive power. It seems like this is what you want to read, and, therefore, attribute to others. People can shop or refuse to shop there at their whim. No arguments with that at all. So, what’s the beef?

Buckwheat, maybe you’d elaborate on “It is utterly amazing to me how anti-working class so-called libertarians are!” I would tend to agree with you, but I’d like to understand more of why you think so. The case FOR unions, if that’s what you’re referring to, is a difficult one to make, regardless of whether someone is of the Lib cult or not.

Francisco Torres January 25, 2006 at 11:40 am

antilib,

You misunderstood my objection. I object to your use of the term “decent salary” and your contention that the free market does not permit a person to receive a “decent” wage, especially since, as you accept, the concept of a “decent” wage is in the eye of the beholder and it is NOT (and could not be) an objective value. If a person accepts a certain wage voluntarily, it means that person found the wage level “decent” enough to accept it, otherwise the person would keep searching for a better deal.

“Each of us has a different “worth” to society and are compensated uniquely, in general.”

You just added this ad-hoc comment; it was not in your previous post.

“However, don’t presume that they don’t take advantage of their workforce at every opportunity. There are several settled, and current, class-action suits that assert otherwise. I tend to have more faith in the current and former Wal-Mart employees who say their employer is of low moral character.”

I remain skeptical of the moral character of BOTH parties, since each made a voluntary exchange when the employer hired the employee, the employee agreeing to the conditions offered by the employer – meaning that neither was doing anything out of pure altruism. A class-action suit only means that a disgruntled worker found it profitable to sue the company and not necessarily that the company had done anything wrong. Maybe Walmart established a bad policy; however the employee is free to object and walk out. Suing the company tells me that the employee felt he or she was “entitled” to something that, most likely, was not agreed at the time of hiring.

George Gaskell January 25, 2006 at 11:40 am

You get these well-dressed, corporate sycophants who show up at your office and say “Either drop the price by X, or we’ll use your competitor Y”. That’s a threat, and that is force.

It most certainly is not.

Vince Daliessio January 25, 2006 at 12:27 pm

antilib sez;

“How many Nieman-Marcus, Lord & Taylor, Saks, Bergdorf’s, (This list could go on and on) have you seen in the news lately where the shoppers engage in gun battles in the front of the store? (I recall two or three such stories in the last few weeks) Not exactly the kind of crowd you want in YOUR neighborhood, is it?”

Again with disparaging the economically lacking (since you seem even to hate the word “poor”).

Not to minimize your claims, but armed bank robberies take place every day in every city, including (especially) some of the tonier areas. I could then turn around and say “I saw two or three stories about bank robberies in the last three weeks – we should use the force of government to remove banks from our communities!” Does this make any sense? Clearly robbers go where the money is – high-volume retail and banking. How many counterexamples do I have to cite to prove your assertion is without merit? How many armed robberies at say (union) Acme markets must I cite to invalidate your analysis?

Michael A. Clem January 25, 2006 at 1:27 pm

I am utterly amazed at how many of these threads turn into an either/or argument. Either you’re anti-union/pro Wal-Mart or anti-Wal-Mart/pro union. This is absurd. The article talked about unions and Wal-Mart. So the anti-Wal-Mart people come in and try to drag in everything that Wal-Mart does, in an attempt to do what? Defend unions? It ain’t exactly clear just what you’re trying to argue. But as has been pointed out, one doesn’t have to be a Wal-Mart lover to be against unions or their attempts to unionized Wal-Mart.

But geez, some of the arguments presented by anti-Wal-Mart people are just silly. There are several Wal-Marts in my city, and most of them are pretty clean and well-organized. Yes, one of them tends to be a little worse than the others, but even they have managed to make improvements. So this is a pointless argument.

To say that libertarians are anti-working class makes no sense, either. Force Wal-Mart to raise their prices and guess what? It’s the working class that will suffer.
Finally, refuting these silly arguments doesn’t mean that I think Wal-Mart is perfect, or some kind of example of laissez-faire capitalism. However, given the existing regulatory, I do think that Wal-Mart is pretty good. Yes, we can point to some specific things that Wal-Mart does that aren’t very good, are anti-libertarian, in fact. But none of that is a reason to force Wal-Mart to unionize, which was the topic of the article, remember?
Knock Wal-Mart down from its position as “king of the hill”, and some other company will just take its place. Deal with the symptoms of a problem, and you still have a problem. The source of the Wal-Mart problem isn’t Wal-Mart itself, but the system of corporatism, regulation, socialized health care, welfare, licensing, minimum wages, etc. that our government has created, with the willing support of most voters. Wal-Mart has just been the most successful in dealing with that environment while still trying to give customers what they want. That doesn’t make Wal-Mart the target, but the decoy. You’re attacking the Wal-Mart straw-man but leaving the system that created the problems intact.
Time to go to the source of the problem instead. Are you supporting the politicians, policies, and government that created the problem?

Buckwheat January 25, 2006 at 1:53 pm

My point in posting the examples of company violence against workers was to make the point that unions have paid in blood for their rights, rights that many of you libs enjoy in your workplaces today, thank you very much.

In the Homestead strike, the workers armed themselves after the Pinkertons opened fire, killing several of the strikers. They won the fight, too, by the way.

About the Austrians, meaning the economists, I surmise, not the working class, I don’t know much but I would be surprised if there were no union shops in Austria and the country doesn’t seem to be suffering for it. After all, it was blue collar Europeans generally putting their lives on the line to defend their rights in the early years of the union movement in this country.

Unions, being composed of humans, have all their failings. I am a union member and my union does not always please me but I prefer its stewardship, pitiful as it may be, to relying on the whims of management. So I don’t have faith or even trust in my union or our government, but I find the simplistic lib argument for kissing up to the lotus ass of the market even less appealing. There is no market in broad terms, and never has been. As soon as any human acquires the ability to control something valuable in economic terms, it soon becomes a monopoly or a cartel. That’s human nature, and all the pissing and moaning from you libs ain’t agonna change it. Organized working people have, and can.

Unions have always been in the vanguard where human and civil rights are concerned, and it’s no happenstance that the decline of unionism has coincided with the resurgence of fascism in this nation. Austrians, being so well acquainted with Hitler, may recall one of his first policies was to destroy the independent workers unions, mostly by murdering their leaders. Totalitarianism and unionism are enemies. When unions were theoretically able to put millions of Americans into the street, the government had to tread much lighter than it does today. Unions – in this context, craft unions – also maintain standards respecting ability, much like the AMA, the FAA A & P license, or the state bar. Would libs remove all standards of competency or requirements of licensure in their abject surrender to the brillance of the market? I think so. Or do you not object to the above organizations forcing adherance to their standards by law? If you don’t, you’re hypocrites.

Union craftspeople have been proven to be more productive and able to maintain higher standards of workmanship than scab laborers, because they have to earn the right to call themselves journeyworkers. They can’t just buy a box of tools and call themselves a mechanic like scabs do.

Libertarians ought to stop their naive sucking up to big money and business, encourage unionism and worker organizations, and join us in opposing corporatism and fascism. No one loathes governments more than the worker, as bad as libs think they despise them. We die in their bullshit wars, are robbed of our money by the IRS before we even see it, and suffer the abuses of their functionaries to a far greater degree than any other segment of society. So we got the right to bitch and organize ourselves to try to rectify the situation. Why do libs begrudge us that?

George Gaskell January 25, 2006 at 2:40 pm

There is no market in broad terms, and never has been.

This makes no sense. You might as well say “there are no people and there never have been.”

Totalitarianism and unionism are enemies.

I think you mean “rivals.”

So we got the right to bitch and organize ourselves to try to rectify the situation.

Right behind “exploit,” the term “organize” comes in a close second for the most abused, twisted propgagandistic word in matters of employment/labor.

“Organize” is a euphemism for “drive competitors away, with violence.” The supposed “right” to do this that you refer to is merely the enlistment of the State to commit this crime for you. It would be immoral for you to physically assault, threaten, drag out or kill someone simply because he wants to compete with you in business and earn a living. Getting the State to do this for you is no different.

antilib January 25, 2006 at 5:12 pm

Mr. Torres: “Suing the company tells me that the employee felt he or she was “entitled” to something that, most likely, was not agreed at the time of hiring.”

That would be true in many cases, *except* the law in California (and several other states) that says you cannot be forced to work during lunch, or cannot be coerced into giving “FREE” labor to the company.

That’s why Wally got whacked with a $172M fine. You don’t get hit that hard for no good reason.

How about the class action that asserts that tens-of-thousands of women were “discriminated” against? Surely you can’t assert than unequal treatment in promotions, etc. was something NOT expected at hiring time.

There are several other examples (Wally just settled one in the north-midwest for $50M a few months ago). I’d agree if these cases were about a *new* benefit (Like the contractor’s case against Microsoft a few years ago), but most of Wally’s Woes are pretty basic stuff…and clearly, in most of the cases, Wally is wrong.

Mr. Daliessio: “Clearly robbers go where the money is – high-volume retail and banking.”

Um, there ain’t much moolah at the local Wally World…so why the gun battles in the stores? My assertion was, and is, that Wally’s is not the kind of place *I* want to be. My odds of getting popped at the local Nieman-Marcus is decidedly lower than at a Wally location.

You go on to say “Again with disparaging the economically lacking (since you seem even to hate the word “poor”).” Duh what? I said it several times, used it in a sentence, and gave a definition: I do not care about them. Period.

They have their interests, I have mine. Where’s the difficulty in understanding this one? Furthermore, what difference does it make whether I love the poor or hate them? My opinion on the seething masses is totally irrelevant. Again, this is a discussion about unions vs. Wally World. Both of which are of ambiguously poor moral character.

Mr Clem, I agree with your position. Wally is the target du jour, and, rightfully so in many ways. However, if they go out of business it will be Crap-Mart, or Junk-Mart, or Cheap-Mart who takes their place. We could have this same argument and insert “Sears, Roebuck and Company”…assuming this discussion was about 80 years ago.

Mr. Gaskell:

“You get these well-dressed, corporate sycophants who show up at your office and say “Either drop the price by X, or we’ll use your competitor Y”. That’s a threat, and that is force.

It most certainly is not.

I beg to differ. On second thought, I refuse to beg. I differ. You’re wrong.

When you’re larger than all but the G-7 nations, any time you issue a threat (Which is the Bentonville Way of Conducting Business) it’s something to be taken seriously. If you, as a supplier, got that attitude from Mom&Pop, Inc., you’d say “Fine, don’t let the door hit your fanny”. Great. That’s part of the “Free Market”.

When you get the threat from Wally World, your choices get awfully narrow, awfully fast. They’ve put more firms out of business (Oh, and that pesky job loss thang) than has cholera and earthquakes combined. You want to use some ivory-tower, classicist version of “force”, then please do so. When it’s a discussion between a supplier and the world’s largest company…that definition doesn’t hold a lot of water.

If you want to be a Wally Apologist, you’re free to do so….just dont’t think the rest of the planet will swallow that bitter pill.

Lisa Casanova January 25, 2006 at 6:08 pm

Antilib,
Someone’s always going to be the world’s largest company; that doesn’t necessarily mean they hold some mystical power over us all. How big can a company get before you start defining everything they do as “force”? Is there a magic size below which they aren’t capable of screwing everybody, and above that size they do nothing but screw everyone?

Paul Edwards January 25, 2006 at 6:13 pm

George Gaskell,

-Totalitarianism and unionism are enemies.-
I think you mean “rivals.”

Ha! Well said.

anarkhos January 25, 2006 at 8:48 pm

Most of the complaints about Wal-Mart damaging the economy etc. should really be directed at monetary inflation. Wal-Mart will buy american and higher quality goods when the dollar is worth something. Until then, they (like every other retailer) have to respect the realities of the currency fiasco.

If and when the inflation monster is slain, I would expect companies like Wal-Mart (in its current incarnation) to adapt quickly and start buying american goods==perhaps selling them abroad and reversing the trade deficit.

Wal-Mart is a symptom, not a problem.

George Gaskell January 25, 2006 at 10:37 pm

You want to use some ivory-tower, classicist version of “force”, then please do so.

I use the term ‘force’ because it is one that most everyone can understand. To be more specific, in the context of economics, the Austrian school uses it to mean the use of express or implied threats of violence or other intimidating behavior that puts a person in immediate fear of physical harm.

That includes, incidentally, the threats made by governments to compel people to do, or not do, certain things. In short, everything government is and does is force and coercion.

In the case of the buyer and seller bargaining for a price, that process cannot, by definition, be an example of force, so long as both parties can choose to either make the deal or not without any fear of violent consequences.

In your example, the supplier can choose to not trade at Wal-Mart’s asking price, which (let’s say) means there is no deal. There is no violence that would follow that outcome. Thus it is not an act of force to bargain for price.

Contrast this scenario with, for example, a person who agrees to work for an employer on mutually agreeable (and mutually beneficial) terms. But, the government declares that this transaction is illegal because the position must be filled by a person who is a member of a special club. Even though the parties to this transaction are in perfect, voluntary agreement, the government, by enforcing this law, essentially threatens the employer and employee with physical violence (jail, or fines extracted under threat of jail) if they don’t do as they are told. This is an example of coercion (i.e., force).

That is not an “ivory tower” definition of force. That is a plain, ordinary, everyday definition.

Buckwheat January 26, 2006 at 1:12 am

Mr. Gaskill, I totally reject your petty anti-union attitude. You cherry-pick the comments others make, post your own cute, lightweight witlessisms but seem unable to provde any coherent or prolonged statements of your own. Why don’t you respond on the whole to the thrust of the posted statements? Or is it your personal philosophy only to pick at the selected sentences you understand? Your snide comments don’t advance the debate the others are engaged in, and are intellectually contemptible.

Steven Smith January 26, 2006 at 2:43 am

If you people think you have startling revelations to make about WM you need to raise the internet sites of Rense.com & Loompanics Unlimited–wow! I shop WM when I know I will get the best deal but I personally prefer Dollar General, Family Dollar & Big Lots: I am CHEAP.

George Gaskell January 26, 2006 at 9:02 am

Mr. Buckwheat,

I provided a sincere, simple (and civil) definition of the term force, since the meaning of that word became an issue when Mr. Antilib disputed it. My (rather mundane) point, not intended to be snide in any way, is that the term “force” in this context contains an element of physical violence, or the threat thereof.

I then went on to explain how bargaining for prices does not involve force at all, and how excluding non-union members from potential employment is a prime example of it.

There is nothing “cute” about any of this. This is a basic economic analysis according to the Austrian school, which is the subject matter of this website.

I do not see how you could construe these comments as something other than addressing “the thrust of the posted statements.” The nature of force goes to the heart of the debate over unions, and therefore to the employment practices of Wal-Mart.

You, in contrast, have insisted on attacking me personally, concerning yourself with (a) my name, (b) my attitude, (c) my wit, (d) my coherence, etc.

Rather than blithely assert that my comments are “contemptible,” I would ask that you offer a more complete argument to support your position and refute mine. When the owners of this site direct us to “post an intelligent and civil comment,” I believe that means to discuss the issue using logic and reason rather than ad hominem attacks.

Vince Daliessio January 26, 2006 at 9:03 am

Buckwheat said;

“In the Homestead strike, the workers armed themselves after the Pinkertons opened fire, killing several of the strikers. They won the fight, too, by the way.”

Not to heroicize paid police who shoot unarmed strikers, my point was that they illegally occupied the property of others, and should have been removed with all necessary and appropriate force. The company was completely within its rights to fire and toss them off its property. That they didn’t do so effectively is their fault, but so what – it doesn’t give striking workers the right to trespass on the property of others, No, it took federal legislation to do that.

bk January 26, 2006 at 10:59 am

From ‘The True Line of Deliverance’ from Auberon Herbert which I’ve been reading –

“Unionism essentially means the sacrifice of one section of the laborers to another section – it means the setting aside of the desires and the judgment of the individual for the sake of a common end; it means temptations to coerce; it means regulation, restriction, and centralization with all the evils that flow from these fatal methods”

and

“Centralization, coercion, and monopoly, always have been the advance guard of eventual failure and suffering, and always will be”

Michael A. Clem January 26, 2006 at 1:21 pm

Actually, this is a good question, and probably a source of misunderstanding between people of different political persuasions. What is coercion? Hitting somebody over the head with a blackjack is coercion. Slashing somebody’s car tires is coercion. Pointing a gun or knife at somebody and demanding their wallet is not coercion, but the threat of coercion–the robber threatens to do harm if you do not do as they say. Is Wal-Mart’s actions with their suppliers coercion? What does Wal-Mart threaten to do if a supplier doesn’t agree? Simply not doing business with them is not coercion or even the threat of coercion–that’s simply the nature of voluntary trade. Both parties have to agree to the terms of the trade, or it’s no deal. That Wal-Mart has rather high demands and suppliers are still willing to agree with them may be an indication of their buying power, but not an indication of coercion.

To say that ‘not agreeing to trade’ is synonymous with coercion sounds like so much doublespeak to me.

Buckwheat January 26, 2006 at 2:20 pm

Mr. Gaskell -

Unionism & totalitarianism are rivals was a serious comment? My statements were abused & twisted propaganda? That’s not personal? That’s not an attack on my reasoning? If that is how you characterize historical facts, how should one evaluate your other statements? Blithely? You have yet to refute the content of one statement I made – since they’re irrefutable, I understand that – and have chosen instead to indulge your fine talent for taking comments out of context to make your, points? Generally, an inability to respond effectively to the intellectual content in a debate, characterized by personal attacks or commentary just like yours, is widely considered to be intellectually contemptible. It is an attack on the messenger, not the message. The thrust of my arguments are that unions have been good for this country, working people are not the enemy, and we better stand together against the fascist corporatists and their political lackeys since we are natural allies. Now what is your response to that?

For all you libs, though I haven’t previously made this point since it is so obvious, and I assumed you were all masters of the obvious, no one is forced to join a union, just as no one is forced to shop at WalMart. They can go elsewhere to work, quite in keeping with the lib philosophy.

Larry N. Martin January 26, 2006 at 3:03 pm

Er, the company is forced to ‘join’ the union. And since ‘going union’ is by democratic vote, those workers who vote against it are being forced to either join the union or switch jobs. It’s one thing for an employee and employer to make an agreement, it’s another thing entirely for a third party to make an agreement against the will of one or both of the interested parties.

George Gaskell January 26, 2006 at 3:16 pm

Unionism & totalitarianism are rivals was a serious comment?

Yes.

They are rivals in much the same way that the Nazis and the Communists were rivals during the 1930s in Germany and elsewhere. Rivals both seek to control the same instruments of power. The totalitarian method is to transfer ownership of businesses and real property to the State. Unions accomplish the same result by leaving the nominal ownership of a company in the hands of others, some of the time, but obtain control over the essential functions of the owners, such as employment costs, hiring and firing, promotions, job assignments, facility openings and closings, introduction of new technologies, etc.

The true antithesis to both of these systems is one in which all relationships are governed by a total prohibition of violence and coercion, respect for property, and the voluntary ordering of commercial relationships (i.e., a system of freedom and enforcement of contract).

So, the true opposite of BOTH unionism, totalitarianism (and all other forms of collectivized property) is the free market, where property and contract rights are enforced for everyone.

My statements were abused & twisted propaganda? That’s not personal? That’s not an attack on my reasoning?

The misuse of terms to disguise the true nature of what they purport to describe is an essential ingredient of propaganda. To call unions merely a form of “organizing” is to hide what the essence of unionism is — a state-enforced artificial barrier to entry to the employment of non-members. This one element is a union’s reason for being. It is the feature that enables everything they do. “Organize” fails to disclose what unions really are — a mechanism of exclusion.

No, that is not personal. That is an analysis of the meaning of a word.

An attack on your reasoning (or anyone else’) is entirely valid. It is what debating is.

The thrust of my arguments are that unions have been good for this country, working people are not the enemy, and we better stand together against the fascist corporatists and their political lackeys since we are natural allies. Now what is your response to that?

My response is that unions have been bad for every country in which they have ever been implemented, including this one. They artificially raise the cost of the product that is manufactured, render the unionized companies unable to deal effectively with fluctuations of prices of their products in the market, and slow down the introduction of new technologies, particularly those that would make workers more productive (for fear that fewer workers would be needed).

Over the long term, these factors destroy whole industries, as they have bankrupted many airlines and are in the process of destroying the U.S. automotive industry.

Of course “working people” are not “the enemy.” That’s a straw man argument.

The best way to stand against corporatists and their political lackeys is to reveal the true nature of the long-term, broad-based economic harm their policies cause, and the only way to do that is to teach as many people as possible the fundamental principle of free-market economics.

We cannot do that if we do not also point out the harm caused by every other form of collectivist infringement on economic liberty. It takes many forms. Corporatism, democratic socialism, communism, fascism, etc. are all basically the same thing, each with a slightly different style and focus, largely differentiated by their rhetoric than by their methods.

Vince Daliessio January 26, 2006 at 3:58 pm

George, Buckwheat and other die-hard trade unionists aren’t open to reason when it comes to their position, especially from a systematic, principled position like the libertarian one. Indeed, they are often very sympathetic to certain of our arguments that either tend to bolster their position, or else where they have no dog in the fight. But they oppose anything that undermines the special privileges government grants to unions, masking their hypocrisy and lack of principle by appealing to the “working man” Tell me Buckwheat – how many of us here do you think aren’t “working”?

Buckwheat January 27, 2006 at 2:27 pm

If a company or a corporation or any entity with employees forms a contract with a union and designates that union as the exclusive negotiator for its employees, how is that coerion on the part of the union? Of course, the union prefers to represent every employee and many companies prefer to negotiate with one unit rather than with every single employee. Unionism is not collectivism, nor is it an attempt to “control the instruments of power,” but organization to obtain increased benefit to its dues-paying members – it doesn’t seek to control the government, or to impose a particular philosophy on anyone. There are no political tests to join unions. It is not government coerced, either, unless you feel compliance with the civil law is government coercion. If anything, the government has done everything possible to destroy the unions bargaining power by allowing courts to set aside these valid contracts when the company decides it is no longer in their interest, or they want to eliminate pensions, etc.

The notion that unions have been bad for every country is simple hyperbole and not supported by the facts. That misrepresentation qualifies as bizarre & twisted anti-union propaganda. The most highly organized countries, basically western Europe and Japan, have standards of living equal to or higher than this country, not to mention outstanding craftsmanship across the board. But, then, perhaps it’s the lib view that the powerless, penniless peon has the same negotiating strength as Whatchamacallit, Inc. It certainly seems to be the lib view that “Arbeit Macht Frei,” and the benefits to each contracting party are always equal. That argument, the result of the rigid lib free market fantasy that all parties are equal, is,in my view, the moral equivalent to that of the bank robber claiming the money he stole was handed over voluntarily. Unequally constituted, unfairly formed contracts are exploitation by the stronger party of the weaker, by their nature, are intended to be, and are highly coercive, as argued by others, above.

The reason companies fail is due more to the poor management than to the poor workers. Or, rising costs of real estate or leases. Leadership is basically non-existent in today’s businesses world, which is why the Abramoffs are so necessary to their “success.” And every company immediately sets about doing its best to eliminate any competition to itself, some by trying to build/provide a superior product (rarely), some by every cheat and chicanery possible (often), most, in my view, by doing their best to minimize costs and maximize profits, irregardless of other factors, and if they can provide a good product at the same time, OK, if not, OK, too. Unions are not anti-business, since a union is not much use without a labor force to organize.

There is no doubt the cost of labor increases the cost of production, as it should, but so does the cost of energy – should we do without that if it costs too much? Management stupidity is the most costly factor, else how do you explain the continued success of companies that have been unionized for decades? According to the lib argument, they are all agonna be failures. My experience is that if your product is good, most people will pay what they must to have it. For example, Japanese-built and German-built automobiles are all built in union shops. They all seem to be doing quite well, despite treating their workers with respect and paying them something they can live on.

The lib anti-union argument is a weak textbook theory and fails the basic reality test. What business failures you libs attribute solely to organized labor do not survive the scrutiny test, and your anti-worker rhetoric really is idealogically motivated. You just can’t stand the idea that the jobs working people perform are recognized by your so-called free market as more valuable than your own.

By the way, the Nazis and the Commies were politcal parties, workers parties, to be sure, that promptly betrayed their constituencies upon assumption of power. They were not unions, so there is no valid comparison there.

And, by working people, we blue collar workers mean ourselves, since we don’t see how sitting around in an office all day and shuffling papers across a desk can be considered work. If it was work, people wouldn’t be fighting to get in there like they do.

The technical formula for work is force (the effort necessary to move the mass) times distance. I personally define work as that labor necessary for the smooth functioning of a civil society. For example: imagine the overall effect if the lawyers, politicians, and talk show hosts all disappeared tomorrow. Now, imagine if all the garbage collectors, mechanics, and cooks disappeared. See what I mean?

Vince Daliessio January 27, 2006 at 2:42 pm

Buckwheat sez;

“If a company or a corporation or any entity with employees forms a contract with a union and designates that union as the exclusive negotiator for its employees, how is that coerion on the part of the union?”

A: Because the employer has NO choice – according to the Wagner Act (or the Railway Act in, ahem, airlines), the employer MUST recognize and bargain with one union that a majority of workers authorizes. He may not fire them or obtain injunctions against them, nor may he make non-unionism a condition of employment(Norris-LaGuardia). ALL of this is coercion, enforced by the Federal government at the point of a gun.

Vince Daliessio January 27, 2006 at 2:45 pm

Buckwheat sez;

“Japanese-built and German-built automobiles are all built in union shops.”

BZZT! Wrong-o Buckwheat – every year, more and more of the cars produced by Japanese and German manufacturers are produced in the US, mostly in the south, in NON-UNION plants. So your argument is simply without merit.

Yancey Ward January 27, 2006 at 3:00 pm

Buckhwheat,

No true libertarian will write that employers and employees should not be allowed to form employer/union relationships. However, as Vince points out the state gives the employer no option, and if a majority of employees decide to form a union, the state makes all of the employees join (at least pay dues), whether they wish to or not. It is this coercion that libertarians find objectionable.

quincunx January 27, 2006 at 6:25 pm

Buckwheat:

You don’t seem to understand that Unions only raise wages for themselves. Everyone else is then forced into lower wages. Unions are anti-workers!

Also, stop making labor utility comparisons. Blue collar and White collar work are both equally important.

George Gaskell January 27, 2006 at 11:28 pm

If a company or a corporation or any entity with employees forms a contract with a union …

“If”? “If”? You glossed right over the key element that I (and others) have been addressing — the part that explains WHY this hypothetical company just happened to find itself entering a “contract” with a union.

As others have pointed out, these “contracts” are forced upon companies by the government. If they refuse, they are penalized, or the government executes the “contract” for them, against their will, in the form of a court order or NLRB decree.

I put quotes around “contract” to highlight the fact that these are not true contracts at all. In order to be a true contract, the deal must be voluntary. To use your example, these government-mandated arrangements are no more true contracts than the bank robber is being paid a salary when he walks out of the building with a bag of cash — they are the product of coercion. If a deal is not mutually voluntary, motivated by mutual self-interest, as determined by each party’s discretion, then it’s not a contract at all.

The notion that unions have been bad for every country is simple hyperbole and not supported by the facts.

The fact that the economies of the Western countries have not (recently) collapsed does not prove that unions are beneficial. It only shows that they are something less than 100% lethal to an economy. As a matter of simple logic, a rule or system of rules, qualifies as harmful if the overall result is worse than what it would have been in its absence. Since we cannot go back in time and re-create the US economy without unions in order to do a side-by-side comparison with the way things actually turned out, there is no way for either of us to prove this point by pointing to statistical evidence. Instead, only logical reasoning can answer this question.

Leadership is basically non-existent in today’s businesses world

Hyperbole, thy name is Buckwheat.

The reason companies fail is due more to the poor management than to the poor workers.

I never said anything about “poor workers.”

The reason individual companies fail is that their leaders fail to predict the economic conditions that affect their business — they buy too much (or too little) of their production factors, hire too many (or too few) people, or charge too much (or too little) for their product, etc.

But that is not what occurs with unionized industries. Unionization affects all companies in the entire industry. Unions have caused whole industries in a country to fail, all at once. One by one they fail, typically leading to a series of consolidations, eventually leaving only a handful of companies in that industry (see railways, steel, mining, auto manufacturing). These last few standing typically then petition the government for a bailout, or for special protection from foreign competition with high trade barriers. At that point, the industry is so sick that it cannot survive without constant subsidies.

All of this happens, and has happened over and over again, because (as I explained a while back) unions prevent a company from being as adaptible and flexible to changing economic conditions as a non-unionized company. Economic factors constantly change, which is reflected in price changes. That is the nature of an advanced, complex economy. Unions block (or slow) the adaptations that companies need to make in order to continue to be successful.

we [blue collar workers] don’t see how sitting around in an office all day and shuffling papers across a desk can be considered work.

Wait a second — a minute ago you said that companies fail due to “poor management.”

If that were true, then good management must actually require some sort of actual skill and ability. Now you are saying that management is not even “work” at all!

It seems that you are wedded to a heavily biased, antagonistic labor-versus-management philosophy. It is irrational, and like all irrational prejudices, it appears to be blinding you to the logical self-contradictions in your own statements.

Vince Daliessio February 2, 2006 at 9:05 am

George Gaskell;
“Unions block (or slow) the adaptations that companies need to make in order to continue to be successful.”

Buckwheat;
(cricket sounds)

Roy W. Wright February 2, 2006 at 1:33 pm

Now, imagine if all the garbage collectors, mechanics, and cooks disappeared.

They’d be replaced. And fairly easily.

Ohhh Henry February 12, 2006 at 8:16 pm

The war against Wal-Mart opens a second front in Europe:

BERLIN (Reuters) – A documentary on the perils of runaway capitalism that spotlights Wal-Mart screened at the Berlin Film Festival on Saturday, and interest among European distributors and television networks has been strong.

The feature-length documentary focuses on working conditions at the U.S. retail giant and argues that the company treats its employees shabbily in pursuit of maximum profit.

“Wal-Mart is the poster child for the worst in corporate behavior,” U.S. director Robert Greenwald said in an interview after his film, “Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price”, screened to a large and appreciative audience.

Link

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